Chemistry and Biochemistry

NASA turns to BYU for critical Mars research ahead of human missions

Posted: Jun 18, 2019

A multidisciplinary team of BYU chemistry and engineering researchers has been tasked by NASA to develop a system to measure the size and electrical charge of Mars dust — a detail seemingly innocuous, yet critical to the success of human missions to the Red Planet.

“The next great challenge in human space flight is Mars,” said BYU chemistry professor Daniel Austin. “And of course, Mars is very dusty. The problem is we don’t know very much about the dust on Mars.”

To address the dust problem, the BYU team is building a mass spectrometer with special printed circuit boards that help determine the charge, the velocity and the mass of a Mars dust simulant. As the particles pass across the electrodes of the circuit board, it detects their charge.

Read the full BYU News article here


Article: BYU News

Photograph: NASA